The challenges posed to the Australian Education System by economic and industrial change have been discussed in a recent paper by John Mathews and colleagues (1988). An interesting feature of this paper is that it is premised on the proposition that 'flexible skill formation and the development of technological literacy' are' the preconditions of any citizen to be active in the democratic system'. This assertion supplies a very new answer to a very old question, namely that of identifying the basic elements of the education of a free citizen. Questions about the nature of a 'liberal education' were formulated and answered, according to his lights, by Aristotle. Pride of place in Aristotle's scheme were given to music and gymnastics, learning about technology being excluded a priori as intrinsically degrading. Given the chasm in time and circumstances separating classical Athens from modern Melbourne, it is hardly a surprise that both Aristotle's preconceptions and prescriptions differ so markedly from those of his Australian successors. What is genuinely surprising, however, is the durability in the English speaking world, of the Aristotlean categories of 'liberal' and 'illiberal'.
Technology, science and the English tradition of liberal education.
Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 17(1).